IRAS e-tax Guide. GST: Guide for the Insurance Industry (Second edition)

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1 IRAS e-tax Guide GST: Guide for the Insurance Industry (Second edition)

2 Published by Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore Published on 14 Nov 2014 First edition on 31 Mar 2014 Disclaimers: IRAS shall not be responsible or held accountable in any way for any damage, loss or expense whatsoever, arising directly or indirectly from any inaccuracy or incompleteness in the Contents of this e-tax Guide, or errors or omissions in the transmission of the Contents. IRAS shall not be responsible or held accountable in any way for any decision made or action taken by you or any third party in reliance upon the Contents in this e-tax Guide. This information aims to provide a better general understanding of taxpayers tax obligations and is not intended to comprehensively address all possible tax issues that may arise. While every effort has been made to ensure that this information is consistent with existing law and practice, should there be any changes, IRAS reserves the right to vary our position accordingly. Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying and recording without the written permission of the copyright holder, application for which should be addressed to the publisher. Such written permission must also be obtained before any part of this publication is stored in a retrieval system of any nature.

3 Table of Contents Page 1 Aim At a glance Insurance Company Reinsurance Company Brokers and Agents Tax Invoice Self Billing Summary: GST Treatment for Insurance Products and brokerage/commission Contact Information Updates and Amendments Appendix Appendix

4 1 Aim 1.1 This guide explains the GST principles applicable to the insurance industry 1. Specifically, it highlights the GST treatment for insurance products, fees and charges, and commission for Insurance Companies, Reinsurance Companies, and Brokers and Agents. 1.2 The guide also clarifies the distinction between life business and life policy. 2 At A Glance 2.1 Generally, the provision of an insurance contract by a GST-registered insurance company in Singapore is a taxable supply of services. GST is charged on the insurance premiums at the standard rate Where the insurance services qualify for zero-rating as an international service (see paragraph 3.3) or exemption from GST (see paragraph 3.1 below), no GST is charged on the insurance premiums. 2.3 The terms life business and general business are used in the Insurance Act to indicate the nature of business that insurance companies are allowed to operate depending on the nature of the license issued. These terms are not synonymous with and should not be confused with the terms life policy and general policy. 2.4 Insurance companies that are in the life business may issue life policies and long term health and accident policies. For GST purposes, only premiums arising from life insurance contracts are exempt from GST. Therefore, not all policies issued by life insurance companies are exempt from GST. 1 This e-tax guide replaces the IRAS e-tax guide GST: The Insurance Industry (Fourth Edition) published on 01 Oct GST should be charged at the prevailing rate, which is currently at 7%. 1

5 3 Insurance Company 3.1 Life Insurance The provision, transfer of ownership, of a life insurance contract is exempt from GST under paragraph 1(l) of Part I of the Fourth Schedule to the GST Act. This exemption is not extended to brokerage services and services of arranging for sale of life policies For GST purposes, a life insurance contract refers to a contract for the provision of a life policy within the meaning of the Insurance Act. Examples of policies that fall within the definition of life policy include endowment policy, investment linked policy and whole life policy Policy and administration fees, which are incidental to the provision of a life policy contract, may also be exempt As long-term personal accident or medical insurance policies (which may be issued by a life insurance company) do not fall within the description of life policy in the Insurance Act, such insurance policies do not qualify for exemption from GST Currently, all non-life riders (e.g. medical or personal accident riders) attached to individual life policies are treated as being incidental in nature to the main life policy. Hence, premiums paid on an individual life insurance policy including a personal accident, health or other general rider attached to the main policy are wholly exempt from GST on the premise that the non-life elements are incidental On the other hand, for a group life policy with medical and personal accident rider issued by an insurance company, only the life component is exempt Life policies supplied under a contract with a person belonging outside Singapore and directly benefiting a person belonging outside Singapore can be zero-rated under section 21(3)(j) of the GST Act. For offshore life insurance business, offshore life insurance provided to persons belonging outside Singapore can be zero-rated. However, as an administrative concession 4, such insurance policies provided by offshore life insurance business eligible for classification as onshore based on guidelines set by the Monetary Authority of Singapore may be treated as exempt (and not zero-rated) for GST purposes. 3.2 General Insurance The provision of general insurance contracts is a taxable supply of services. The GST-registered insurance company is required to charge and account for 3 For more information on GST principles applicable to insurance brokers and agents, please refer to Section 5. 4 Based on MAS guidelines, offshore life business is eligible for classification as onshore life business provided it does not exceed S$ 5 million. Hence, this administrative concession is given to ease compliance so that the offshore life business does not need to distinguish between zero-rated and exempt supplies. 2

6 GST at the prevailing GST rate on the general insurance premiums unless the supply qualifies as an international service 5 and can be zero-rated Examples of general policies are motor, fire, personal accident, medical and health, workmen s compensation, professional indemnity, fidelity guarantee insurance etc. 3.3 Zero-Rating of Insurance Services As highlighted in paragraph 2.2, the provision of direct insurance services can be zero-rated if it falls within the description of international services listed under section 21(3) of the GST Act Generally, the provision of insurance services can be zero-rated if the policyholder belongs outside Singapore and is outside Singapore at the time the service is performed 6. However, for certain general insurance policies 7, the belonging status of the insured may be relevant to determine if zero-rating can apply On the other hand, some insurance policies can be zero-rated even though the policyholder belongs in Singapore. Such policies include those that relate to international transportation, export of goods, land or goods outside Singapore The zero-rating provisions relevant to the insurance industry are listed below: (A) Where policyholder may belong in or outside Singapore Section 21(3)(c) 8 Direct insurance relating to international transportation of goods and passengers from: a) From a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore; b) From a place in Singapore to a place outside Singapore; or c) From a place outside Singapore to a place in Singapore. Policies that qualify for zero-rating under section 21(3)(c) include: a) Marine/Aviation Cargo b) Marine/Aviation Hull Insurance Only applicable for insurance purchased in respect of commercial vessels/aircraft involved in the international transportation of goods or passengers 9. Hull insurance for pleasure crafts, barges, boats, etc not involved in international transportation will not qualify for zero-rating and is subject to GST. 5 Under section 21(3) of the GST Act. 6 For life policies, the insured is not regarded as a direct beneficiary for the purpose of zero-rating under section 21(3)(j). 7 Examples include directors liability insurance where the director s personal liability is also covered. 8 Section 21(3)(c) states that services (other than the letting on hire of any means of transport) comprising the insuring or the arranging of the insurance or the arranging of the transport of passengers or goods to which any provision of paragraphs (a) and (b) applies. 9 With effect from 1 July 2010, hull insurance for cruise liners used only for cruises to nowhere can be zero-rated under section 21(3)(c). 3

7 c) Travel Insurance Only if the insurance contract is identifiable with international journeys involving the carriage of passengers to and from outside Singapore. Policies that do not qualify for zero-rating under section 21(3)(c) include: a) Insurance policies taken up by policyholders for the purpose of overseas employment or study. b) Health insurance policy with overseas medical coverage As the above policies do not directly relate to the export of goods, land or goods outside Singapore or international travel, the premiums are standardrated if supplied to a local policyholder 10. The location of coverage is not relevant in determining whether the policy can be zero-rated. Section 21(3)(e) Insurance services supplied directly in connection with land or any improvement thereto situated outside Singapore. For example: Insurance premiums charged for fire insurance in respect of a property in Vietnam, insurance premiums charged for property risk insurance in respect of a property in Malaysia. Section 21(3)(f) Insurance services supplied directly in connection with goods situated outside Singapore when the services are performed. Section 21(3)(h) Insurance (not reinsurance) upon or against any risks incurred in the making of advance or the granting of credit directly relating to a) the export of goods (not services) outside Singapore; or b) the supply of goods which involves the removal of goods from a place outside Singapore to another place outside Singapore. For example: Export credit insurance (B) Where policyholder must belong outside Singapore for zero-rating Section 21(3)(g) Insurance services supplied directly in connection 11 with goods for export outside Singapore, where the risk cover is supplied to a person not belonging in Singapore at the time the services are performed. Section 21(3)(j) Insurance services provided under a contract with a person who belongs outside Singapore and directly benefit 12 a person who belongs outside Singapore and who is not in Singapore when the insurance cover is provided. The cover must not be directly in connection with any land or goods in Singapore. For example: Health policy provided to policyholder who is an overseas individual 10 See Belonging status of your customer (an individual) in paragraph 3.3.4(B). 11 Refer to e-tax Guide Clarification on "Directly In Connection With" and "Directly Benefit". 12 Refer to e-tax Guide Clarification on "Directly In Connection With" and "Directly Benefit" 4

8 Belonging status of your customer (an individual) For the purpose of section 21(3)(j), an individual belongs in Singapore if his usual place of residence is in Singapore during the period the insurance services are supplied. Administratively, the Comptroller of GST regards the residential address of an individual as his "usual place of residence". Hence, if your customer provides a Singapore residential address, he shall be regarded as belonging in Singapore for GST purposes. However, if the individual stays overseas to study or work and he has more than one residential address, the Comptroller is prepared to accept that the individual belongs overseas if all of the following conditions are satisfied: a) He is absent from Singapore for a continuous period of at least one year. It does not matter that he spends his holidays in Singapore during that one year. During that year, his temporary return to Singapore for vacation or other reasonable purposes is acceptable. b) He stays at a fixed place in the overseas country. c) Where he is working in the overseas country, his overseas assignment must not be incidental to his employment in Singapore. For example: student insurance policy providing insurance coverage of more than a year while the student stays overseas. Policies that do not qualify for zero-rating under section 21(3)(j) include: Insurance policies taken up by local policyholders to insure against losses to their shareholdings in overseas companies or loans provided to overseas persons. 3.4 Time Of Supply For Premiums Prior to 1 January Where premiums are paid in a lump sum, the time of supply is at the earliest of: a) When the services are completed b) When a payment is received c) When a tax invoice is issued For contracts of insurance, the performance of insurance services is regarded as completed only at the end of the contract period. In practice, the premium is usually invoiced or collected upfront at the beginning of contract. Hence, time of supply would be triggered at the earlier of the receipt of the premiums or the issue of the tax invoice. The issuance of a tax invoice and not any other type of invoice is an event that triggers the time of supply Where premiums are in instalments, the time of supply is the earlier of: a) The date when each instalment payment becomes due; or b) The date of payment 5

9 With effect from 1 January Where premiums are paid in a lump sum, the GST rule for time of supply will be changed to be in line with commercial practices. This is to help businesses comply with the rules easily. Output tax will be accounted for based on the earlier of the following: a) When an invoice is issued; or b) When payment is received The issuance of any type of invoice will be an event that triggers the time of supply. This includes a tax invoice as well as any document that serves as a bill for payment for supplies made by a GST-registered supplier. An example of such document would be a debit note In general, documents such as sales order, pro-forma invoice, statement of accounts and letter/statement of claims are not considered invoices for GST time of supply purposes. This is because these documents are often not billing for payments and would therefore not be treated as invoices based on normal commercial practices. For more details, please refer to the e-tax Guide on GST: Time of Supply Rules The time of supply for instalment premiums (see paragraph above) would remain the same. 3.5 Estimation Of Output Tax For Premiums Collected on Behalf Of The Insurance Company A broker/agent may collect premiums on behalf of the insurance company from the policyholder. For GST purposes, premiums collected by broker/agent are considered as received by the insurance company. If the tax invoice has not been issued earlier, the collection of premiums by the broker/agent on behalf of the insurance company would trigger the time of supply The broker should then inform the insurance company on the collection of premiums, as the insurance company is required to account for GST on insurance premiums collected on insurance contracts that do not qualify for exemption or zero-rating However, the insurance company may face difficulties in capturing the exact amount of output tax in a prescribed accounting period if the broker does not inform the insurance company on time In view of such difficulties, the insurance company may apply to the Comptroller of GST in writing for estimation of output tax under regulation 60 of GST (General) Regulations Upon approval, the insurance company will be allowed to estimate whole or a portion of the output tax payable in an accounting period based on a formula allowed by the Comptroller. 6

10 3.5.6 The estimated output tax for the previous accounting period will be adjusted in the next accounting period when the tax invoices for premiums received are issued Example: Insurance Company A collected $90,000 in premiums for the period Jul to Sep Company A s backlog in issuing tax invoices is one month and it estimates the output tax due to the Comptroller for the last month of the next quarter (Oct to Dec 2013) with the following formula: Estimated output tax for Dec 2013 = Monthly average of actual premiums for previous quarter (i.e. Jul to Sep 2013) multiplied by 1 month of backlog multiplied by prevailing GST rate 13 (i.e. 7%) = ($90,000/3) X 1 month X 7% = $2,100 Assuming Company A collected S$75,000 in premiums for Oct to Nov 2013, GST amount is $5,250. Company A should declare in its GST return: In Box 1: $75,000 +$30,000 (estimated) = $105,000 (Value of standard-rated supplies) In Box 6: $5,250 + $2,100 (estimated as above) = $7,350. In the next quarter, Company A would have known the exact amount of premiums and GST collected for Dec 2013 (assuming $40,000 and GST amount: $2,800) and is required to make adjustments in the next quarter (January to Mar 2014). The Company is required to deduct from Box 1 ($30,000) and Box 6 ($2,100) and add the exact amount of premiums and GST collected to Box 1 ($40,000) and 6 ($2,800). Company A will have to compute the amount of estimated output tax for the month of Mar 2014 based on the monthly average of actual premiums for Oct to Dec Specific Issues Affecting Insurance Companies Cash Payments GST registered insurance companies are allowed a credit for input tax deemed incurred on the Cash Payments when the conditions listed in paragraph 3.2 of the e-tax guide GST Guide on Insurance: Cash Payments and Input Tax on Motor Car Expenses are satisfied Input Tax on Motor Car Expenses The insurance company is allowed to claim input tax incurred on goods or services purchased for the purpose of its business of making taxable supplies. A GST registered insurance company is allowed to claim input tax incurred on 13 GST rate was increased from 5% to 7% in Jul

11 motor car expenses if all conditions listed in paragraph 4.4 of the e-tax guide GST Guide on Insurance: Cash Payments and Input Tax on Motor Car Expenses are satisfied Premium Refunds Insurance companies may make refunds to policyholders under certain conditions. Some insurance companies may use the refunds to offset premiums payable. Generally, the insurance company should not reduce the value of insurance services previously supplied and corresponding output tax when a refund is made upon the occurrence of an insured event, or an event other than the insured event, e.g. no claims being made, or termination of the policy plan after a specified minimum number of years etc. However, the refunds can be treated as discounts against the insurance premiums if the payment of the refund is connected with the renewal of the insurance contract, and the refund is offset against the premium. GST on the subsequent premium may be accounted on the net premium payable Investment Linked Policies (ILP) Life insurance companies may offer investment linked policies with a combination of protection and investment elements. Premiums received from the policyholder are typically invested in professionally managed investment linked funds (ILF), in return for units allocated to the policyholder. Generally, the insurance company charges fees such as fund management fees, surrender fees, redemption fees, to defray its costs of administering the investment linked policies. Such fees and charges are separately disclosed and typically settled via a reduction in units of ILF allocated to the policyholder. For GST purposes, we are prepared to treat an ILP as a single supply of life policy and exempt the premiums from GST for the ILP on the following basis: a) The main purpose of the policyholder is to purchase a life insurance policy and not merely an investment product; b) The investment element is always provided together as a package with the life insurance contract 14 ; and c) The ILP falls within the definition of a life policy in the Insurance Act. Similarly, fees and charges in relation with an investment linked policy will be treated as additional consideration for an exempt supply arising from the provision of a life insurance contract, under paragraph 1(l) of Part I of the Fourth Schedule to the GST Act Insurance Excess There are some situations where the policyholder is not fully insured and is required to bear an amount of excess in the event of loss. 14 The investment element can be considered as an enhancement to the life protection element of the policy as it allows for the potential of higher returns to increase the cash value of the policy, as opposed to leaving the investment decisions to the insurance company in traditional life policies. 8

12 The following section describes the scenarios when the recovery of insurance excess is treated as a supply and the corresponding GST treatment: Scenario 1: Supplier bills the insured Insurance Company Excess of $500 Tax invoice of $1,500 (inclusive of GST Supplier Cash payment $1,000 Policyholder Pays $1,500 When the supplier bills the policyholder for vehicle repair services, the insured cannot claim the GST incurred if he is a non GST-registered person. Assuming the insurance company will bear the amount of expenses exceeding $500, the policyholder will recover $1,000 from the insurance company. In this case, the insurance company is treated as making a Cash Payment indemnifying the insured according to the insurance contract 15. Scenario 2: Supplier bills insurance company Insurance Company Pays $1,500 Tax invoice of $1,500 (inclusive of GST) Supplier Tax invoice $500 (inclusive of GST) Policyholder If the insurance company contracted for the supply of 3rd party services to fulfill its obligations under the insurance contract to the policyholder, the 3rd party would bill the insurance company for the full value of services rendered. The insurance company will recover the excess from the policyholder. The recovery of excess by the insurance company is treated as a taxable supply of service and hence GST is chargeable on the recovery of excess from the policyholder. Whether the recovery of excess $500 should be treated as inclusive of GST or exclusive of GST depends on terms and conditions of the insurance contract between the policyholder and insurance company See section 3.2 of the e-tax Guide GST Guide on Insurance: Cash Payments and Input Tax on Motor Car Expenses on conditions of claiming deemed input tax for Cash Payment. 16 For both the examples under Scenarios 2 and 3, it is assumed that the policyholder only bears excess of $500 inclusive of GST. If the excess is inclusive of GST, GST is computed by using the tax fraction [i.e. GST rate / (100% + GST rate)] multiplied by the excess recovered. If it is exclusive, GST is computed using the prevailing GST rate multiplied by the excess recovered. 9

13 Scenario 3: Supplier issues two invoices (where the supplier has two contracts of services; one with the insurance company for part of the bill payable by the insurance company and the other with the policyholder for the amount of excess payable by the policyholder) Insurance Company Policyholder Tax invoice $1,000 (inclusive of GST Supplier Tax invoice $500 (inclusive of GST) Feedback from the industry highlighted that it is a common market practice for the supplier to split their bills between the insured and the insurance company. In order not to disrupt this business practice, the supplier is allowed to continue this practice to split the bill and issue 2 tax invoices to the policyholder and the insurance company respectively. When the supplier splits its bill, both bills should attract GST, as there is a taxable supply of services provided to both the insurance company and the policyholder. Whatever the excess amount the supplier collects from the policyholder, the amount should be treated as inclusive of GST Recovery Of Third Party Claims Where a third party (i.e. Policyholder A) causes the damage, the insurance company of the victim (i.e. company Y) usually recovers the full amount or part of the repair cost 17 from the third party or the insurance company of the third party. The insurance company Y is not regarded as making any supply to the third party or his insurance company X when it recovers the cost. This is because the payment is regarded as a form of compensation from the third party or his insurance company. Insurance Company X Issues tax Makes Cash Payment invoice & Insurance policy recovers excess of $500 Issues tax invoice Supplier 1 Policyholder A (at fault) Recovers an agreed amount Supplier 2 Issues tax invoice Person B (Victim) or Person B s Insurance Company Y 17 Assumption: Both cars belonging to the victim and the party at fault are damaged. Hence, there are two suppliers (repair workshops) involved. 10

14 3.6.7 Recovery Of Medical Expenses From Agents / Policyholders The insurance company may require potential policyholders to undergo medical check-ups to ascertain their risk profile and the premiums required to underwrite the policies. The insurance company would generally bear the medical costs of the compulsory medical check-ups undergone by the policyholders. However, the insurance company may recover the cost of medical check-ups from the agent or policyholder in certain situations. In general, the recovery of expenses is treated as a taxable supply of services where GST is chargeable. However, where one party breaches his contractual obligations and causes the other party to incur a loss, the recovery of expenses is not a supply and is not subject to GST. The GST treatment for the scenarios in which the insurance company may recover medical expenses from the policyholder or insurance agent is shown below: Scenario Taxable? Reason Yes (a) The insurance company unilaterally cancels the insurance policy even though the insurance agent did not breach any of the terms in the agency agreement and recovers medical expenses from the insurance agent. (b) The insurance company cancels the insurance policy due to fraud or misrepresentation by the policyholder and recovers medical expenses from the insurance agent. (c) The insurance agent breaches any of his obligations under the agency agreement with the insurance company, resulting in a loss to the insurance company and the latter recovers the medical expenses from the agent. (d) The potential policyholder failed to pay the first premium or first installment of premium within the grace period stated in letter of acceptance and the insurance company recovers the medical expenses from the insurance agent. (e) The policyholder decides not to take up the policy within the free look period after signing the policy and the insurance company recovers the cost of medical checkups from the policyholder. Yes No The recovery of expenses from the insurance agent did not result from a breach of terms of contract by the insurance agent. Rather, it is the unilateral decision of the insurance company to cancel the policy. The recovery of expenses from the insurance agent did not result from a breach of terms of contract by the insurance agent. The recovery of expenses from the agent resulted from a breach of the terms under the agency agreement. Yes The recovery of expenses from the insurance agent did not result from a breach of terms of contract by the insurance agent. Rather, it is the unilateral decision of the policyholder not to pay the premiums. Yes The policyholder did not breach any terms of the insurance contract as he has the right to cancel the policy within the free look period. 11

15 4 Reinsurance Company 4.1 The provision of general reinsurance or life reinsurance contract is an exempt supply of financial service under the Fourth Schedule to the GST Act. Hence, premiums arising from such reinsurance contracts placed locally are exempt from GST. 4.2 The premiums of a reinsurance contract would qualify for zero-rating under section 21(3)(j) if it is a supply made under a contract with, and which directly benefits a person belonging outside Singapore, and who is outside Singapore when the service is performed. Hence, reinsurance premiums received from cedants belonging outside Singapore can be zero-rated. 4.3 It should be noted that reinsurance cover is not treated as supplied directly in connection with goods or land. Hence, the only zero-rating provision for reinsurance cover is section 21(3)(j). It is not necessary to ascertain if reinsurance coverage would qualify for zero-rating under other provisions such as sections 21(3)(e), (f), (g) and (h). 5 Brokers and Agents 5.1 Commission For Arranging Direct General/ Life 18 Insurance Generally, the commission or brokerage (including profit commission, overriding commission or other product related payment) charged by a GST registered broker/agent 19 for arranging direct general or life insurance policies is subject to GST at the standard-rate if the recipient of the services (e.g. the insurance company or policyholder) belongs in Singapore and at 0% if the recipient belongs outside Singapore If the GST registered agent or broker arranges for insurance policies on behalf of an overseas insurance company and receives commission from that overseas insurance company, the commission charged will qualify for zerorating under section 21(3)(j) of the GST Act. This is so even if the policyholder may be a local person. The services of agent or broker are rendered to the overseas insurance company. However, if the agent or broker provides the services to the policyholder and charges commission or service fees, the commission charged will be subjected to GST at the standard rate It should also be noted that commission or brokerage charged for services provided by the agent/broker are not treated as supplied directly in connection with any land or goods Where the brokerage services supplied involve the arranging of insurance policies relating to international transportation of goods or passengers, it will qualify for zero-rating under section 21(3)(c) of the GST Act. Generally, 18 As mentioned in paragraph 3.1.1, brokerage and commission arising from the arranging for the sale of life policies is not exempt from GST. 19 The GST-registered agent/broker refers to an agent/broker who carries on a business and is registered independently for GST purposes. An agent employed under a contract of employment with the insurance company is an employee and is not required to register for GST. 12

16 commission charged for the arranging of the following policies can be zerorated: a) Marine cargo /marine hull b) Aviation cargo, aviation hull c) Travel insurance (which is identifiable with journeys involving carriage of passengers to and from outside Singapore) In the event that the insurance company cannot zero-rate the premium of the above policies, the broker s or agent s commission will similarly not qualify for zero-rating. Other Non-Monetary Commission The GST-registered agent or broker may receive services or goods as commission. These are non-monetary consideration received for services provided by the agent or broker. Hence, if the agent or broker is GST registered, he is also required to account for GST based on the open market value of the goods or services received. Lucky Draws Instead of commission, the GST-registered agent or broker may receive a chance to participate in a lucky draw organized by the insurance company in return for meeting sales targets. He is not required to account for GST on the value of lucky draw chance received If the agent or broker wins a prize through the lucky draw, the prize is not regarded as a consideration for the services rendered by the agent or broker 20. Hence, the GST registered agent or broker is not required to account for GST on goods or services received as prizes through lucky draws On the other hand, the GST-registered insurance company is deemed to be making a supply of goods if the goods are given away as lucky draw prizes. Hence, it is required to account for GST based on the open market value of the goods unless 21 : The cost of the gift is $200 or less; or It had not claimed GST on the purchase or import of the goods. 5.2 Brokerage/Commission For Reinsurance Contracts In inward reinsurance, reinsurance commission (including overriding commission and profit commission) payable to the GST registered cedant is exempt from GST if the reinsurance company belongs in Singapore and zerorated if the reinsurance company belongs outside Singapore In outward reinsurance, the reinsurance commission payable to the reinsurance company by the retrocessionaire is exempt from GST if the retrocessionaire 20 For GST purposes, there is no direct nexus between the lucky draw prize received and the services rendered by the agent or broker. 21 Prior to 1 Oct 2012, if the cost of the goods given free to the agent or broker is not more than $200 and the goods do not form a series or succession of gifts given to the same agent or broker, no supply is treated as being made by the GST-registered insurance company. 13

17 belongs in Singapore and zero-rated if the retrocessionaire belongs outside Singapore If a GST registered broker arranges for the provision of reinsurance contract, the commission charged by him is exempt from GST if the recipient of his services belongs in Singapore and zero-rated if the recipient belongs outside Singapore. 5.3 Time Of Supply For Commission The time of supply rules determine when the output tax is to be accounted. Prior to 1 January 2011, GST should be accounted on brokerage or commission (including profit commission, overriding commission or other product related payment) due to broker/agent at the earliest of the following three events: a) Performance of services b) Receipt of payment c) Issue of tax invoice by the GST registered broker/agent or the insurance company under self-billing arrangement For brokerage or commission, the General Insurance Association (GIA) and the Singapore Insurance Brokers Association (SIBA) regard the performance of broking services as complete at the end of the contract period. That being the case, the issue of the tax invoice or receipt of payment, whichever is earlier, would trigger the time of supply With effect from 1 January 2011, the GST rule for time of supply will be changed to be in line with commercial practices. This is to help businesses comply with the rules easily. For most transactions, output tax will be accounted for based on the earlier of the following: a) When an invoice is issued b) When payment is received Prior to 1 January 2011, the issuance of a tax invoice and not any other type of invoice is an event that will trigger the time of supply. With effect from 1 January 2011, the issuance of any type of invoice will be an event that triggers the time of supply. This includes a tax invoice as well as any document that serves as a bill for payment for supplies made by a GST-registered supplier. An example of such document would be a debit note In general, documents such as sales order, pro-forma invoice, statement of accounts and letter/statement of claims are not considered as invoices for GST time of supply purposes. This is because these documents are often not billing for payments and would therefore not be treated as invoices based on normal commercial practices. 14

18 6 Tax Invoice It should be noted that insurance premiums and brokerage or commission are consideration for separate supplies of services. The premium is due to the insurance company for its supply of insurance services to the policyholder. On the other hand, brokerage or commission is consideration due to the insurance agent or broker for its supply of services (of arranging direct insurance) to the insurance company. 6.2 GST on insurance premiums is based on the value of the premiums while GST on brokerage or commission is based on the value of brokerage or commission. The calculation of GST should not be based on the net value of the premium and brokerage commission. 6.3 There should be separate tax invoices issued by the GST-registered insurance company to the policyholder for the premiums 23 and broker/agent to the insurance company for the commission charged. 6.4 The broker/agent may raise a debit note to the policyholder for the collection of the insurance premium on behalf of the insurance company. As it is the insurance company that supplies the insurance services to the policyholder, the insurance company should issue a tax invoice to the policyholder. Therefore, the debit note issued by the broker/agent should not be mistaken as a tax invoice for GST purposes. 6.5 The broker/agent is advised to attach the tax invoice issued by the insurance company to his own debit note when he bills the policyholder. The broker should indicate the following words on his debit note 24 This is not a Tax Invoice. The insurance company s tax invoice is attached or will be sent to you shortly. 6.6 The insurance company may also choose to issue a receipt instead of a tax invoice to a non-gst registered policyholder for the premium. The receipt must be serially printed and must show the following: Insurance company s name and GST registration number Date of receipt; Total amount payable including total GST; and The words "price payable includes GST". The insurance company must retain a duplicate of the receipts issued. 7 Self Billing 7.1 It is a common practice for insurance companies to determine the value of an agent s or broker s commission and other compensation. For administrative ease, the insurance company may wish to adopt self-billing so that the 22 For details on the particulars required on a tax invoice, refer to GST: General Guide for Businesses. 23 Refer to Appendix 1 for a sample of the tax invoice issued by the insurance company. 24 Refer to Appendix 2 for a specimen of the debit note issued by broker/agent. 15

19 insurance company prepares the tax invoice, on behalf of the agent or broker, for services provided by the agent or broker. 7.2 Self-billing can only be used after the insurance company has performed a selfreview and made a declaration that it is able to satisfy all the conditions indicated on the Checklist for Self-Review of Eligibility and Declaration on Use of Self-Billing. 7.3 Self-billing is only allowed between an insurance company and GST registered cash agent 25 as the insurance company will determine and verify the final value of commission paid to the agents. 7.4 GST registered agents or brokers with principal accounts 26 are still required to issue tax invoices for their supply of services as they are able to determine the amount of commission earned from the insurance company in respect of the premiums received. 8 Summary: GST Treatment for Insurance Products and brokerage/commission 8.1 The following table states generally the GST treatment for various types of insurance products and the relevant zero-rating provisions. It is not meant to be exhaustive and the insurance companies should determine the GST treatment for their policies based on the nature of the insurance contracts (and not merely based on the terminology used for their policies). 25 A cash agent is one who does not have a Principal s Account (i.e. an account to segregate the funds of the agent and the money belonging to the insurance company). It receives cheques made payable to the insurance company (and cash) from its clients for the collection of insurance premiums and hands over all premiums collected from its clients to the insurance company. 26 An agent who operates a Principal s Account and receives cheques made payable to its name (and cash) from its clients for the collection of insurance premiums. He deposits the premiums collected into the Principal s Account after deducting the commissions due to him. 16

20 Type Of Insurance Policy Direct Insurance Premiums Life Policies Life Policy - Individual (e.g. endowment, whole life) Life Policy - Group 27 Life Annuity Term Life Insurance Investment Linked Policy GST treatment for customer belonging In Outside Singapore Singapore EX ZR [s21(3)(j)] Premiums - General Insurance Policies Workmen s Compensation Insurance SR NA Motor Insurance In Respect Of Vehicles Registered In Singapore Marine Hull Insurance 28 Marine Cargo Insurance 29 Travel Insurance Fire And Theft In Respect Of Land/Goods In Singapore In Respect Of Land/Goods Outside Singapore Public Liability Insurance Medical And Accident Insurance Professional Indemnity Insurance Mortgagee s Interest Insurance Political risk insurance Reinsurance Reinsurance Policy Abbreviation: SR ZR [s21(3)(c)] SR ZR [s21(3)(e), s21(3)(f)] SR EX ZR [s21(3)(j)] 30 ZR [s21(3)(j)] SR Standard-rated EX Exempt ZR Zero-rated NA Not applicable Including personal accident or medical rider attached to main policy 27 Excluding riders attached to the main policy, riders are standard-rated if customer belongs in Singapore. 28 Vessel/aircraft must be used for international transportation of goods/passengers. 29 Cargo must be carried in an international voyage. 30 Customers for general policies may refer to both the policyholder and the insured depending on the type of coverage. 17

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